Today, I’m excited to share my thoughts on Candace Ganger’s upcoming release, Six Goodbyes We Never Said! Let’s get started, shall we? 🙂
Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.
Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.
Candace Ganger’s Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.
Early in 2019 I was introduced to the description “own voices” in terms of books (which, if you’re late to the party like I was, means that the author who is writing about a marginalized group is actually a part of that marginalized group), and I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to pick up some of these reads because 1) it will give authors a chance to accurately represent their experiences and diverse stories, and 2) it gives me a chance to learn more about the experiences of others that I might not otherwise get to.
Enter Six Goodbyes We Never Said: an own voices story told in alternating POVs between Naima (who, on top of grieving the sudden death of her father, is living with OCD and GAD) and Dew (who is coping with PTSD following the sudden loss of his parents while also adjusting to life with his new adoptive family) as they both navigate their grief. Much like other readers, I struggled with Naima’s chapters, mostly because she always seemed so rude and angsty – while I get why she would be, it just made reading some of her chapters a struggle.
It was pleasantly surprising (well, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise as it’s literally included in the synopsis) to have a story that featured a male and female and didn’t automatically launch into a romance where they basically use each other as a crutch and don’t actually handle their grief. In addition, I appreciated that Naima and Dew weren’t instantly best friends, bonding over their mutual losses and grief because, well, that wouldn’t be real.
As a character-driven story, there really wasn’t a great deal of external conflict going on, so I had to be strategic and read when I was internally invested in the story rather than after a long day at work when I just needed to shut my mind off and decompress. If you’re a mood reader like me, I’d recommend picking this one up when you’re prepared to dive into the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of the characters.
Overall, I found this to be a powerful YA novel that skillfully tackled hard to handle topics. Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Wednesday Books and Netgalley for providing my review copy. It is always my privilege to share my honest thoughts and opinions!